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Despite the far-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, agriculture- and food-technology companies have fared relatively well in terms of attracting investors. “AgFunder AgriFoodTech Mid-Year Investment Review” projects $10.5 billion in funding for the sector in just the first half of 2020. Investors invested $21.6 billion in the global agrifoodtech sector in fiscal-year 2019. The AgFunder team also reported trends during the pandemic such as greater focus on local-food production and healthy foods.

“Previously seen as fringe, startup advocacy around the need for more local-food production couldn’t feel more prescient as countries look inward to protect their populations,” the AgFunder authors wrote. “The role of food in our health has also been flung into the spotlight as COVID-19 sufferers with food-related diseases such as diabetes are among the worst-affected.”

The category receiving the greatest amount of investment dollars thus far in 2020 is “eGrocery” – $1.8 billion. In first-half 2020 it received 20 percent of all agrifoodtech funding. The category is comprised of online stores for sale and delivery of processed and unprocessed agricultural products.

The “Midstream Technologies” category accounted for the next-largest amount of investment dollars – $1.6 billon. The category is on its way to beating its $2.1 billion 2019 total. Midstream technologies involve food-safety and traceability technology, logistics and transport, and processing technology.

The “Innovative Food” category has attracted $1.1 billion in investments so far in 2020. Companies in the category raised more in first-half 2020 than in all of 2019. The category is comprised of cultured meat, novel ingredients and plant-based proteins.

“While Impossible Food’s mega-bridge round no doubt played a big role in the category’s funding achievement, consumer demand for alternative-meat and alternative-dairy products spiked during the first half of the year,” the authors wrote.

The “Ag Biotechnology” category is comprised of on-farm inputs for crop and animal production such as genetics, products related to the microbiome, breeding and animal health. According to AgFunder, $862 million was raised in first-half 2020, compared to $1.1 billion for the entire previous year.

“There’s also a strong market need for new crop varieties and on-farm treatments – particularly those with a reduced environmental impact to the mainstay range of chemicals. Sustainability is increasingly high on the agenda,” according to AgFunder.

The authors concluded, “The need for agrifoodtech innovation is greater than ever. That creates many opportunities for entrepreneurs and technologists to disrupt the industry and create new efficiencies at various points in the value chain.”

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Lynn Grooms writes about the diversity of agriculture, including the industry’s newest ideas, research and technologies as a staff reporter for Agri-View based in Wisconsin.